Monday, October 07, 2002

Did he get tired or did he just get lazy?

Yeah, I know. Philosophical introspection at the hands of the Eagles?
I heard this line from 'Lyin' Eyes' flipping through radio channels today. It impinged itself on my consciousness in an odd way, worming through my thoughts. Echoing.

Whether driven by that same vibe or through fate, I picked up an old copy of Dracula I've got. I'd probably not spared it a thought in several years. It's on the bottom of my book shelf, behind a stack of Indie CDs that always catch my eye when it wonders there, The Smiths or Moldy Peaches or Rock-A-Teens...

Today, though, I picked up the book. I was vaguely surprised to find a few odd keepsakes in it: it had been a gift to me from the director of the last play I was in, Long Day's Journey into Night. There was a program, a card and the dedication Eric K had written.

It was loaded, basically, with a complex design of regret and irony.
The most immediate was from the sender. I've mentioned Eric several times, but never by name. Regardless of what could have been written, anything in his hand is enough to give me pause.

There was a card from Chris, too. He was to play my little brother in the film, but he got mono (glandular fever, for the Brits) and dropped out two days before we opened. It's worth noting that I, umm, got it as well during the run of the show. His being was quite the fiasco, even before he quit. He was younger than the rest of us and had never lived on his own before and didn't know what to do with himself when he got sick. I remember he passed out one night when we were all out. He was broke, couldn't afford any medicine. I could.
He stayed in my room that night.

Odd, really. That all my sins should be known to all, but my acts of... kindness... my heart carries alone.

Between these two, that this was the millieu I lived in during that show, isn't surprising. O'Neil's play is all about the murk in between the stanchions. All about clearing it up. Harrowing, in the most literal since.

It makes me think of Faulkner (Eric doted on Faulkner and I'm sure he saw this connexion even then), of As I Lay Dying. When you break everything down, when nothing's left, when the heath is utterly blasted, you can start anew. Simple and unadorned. Naked.
The irony folds up from there, intermixes with it.
It all seemed quite simple then, what I felt and what I did. Not that it really was. The pressures of that moment are removed by the exgencies of today.
And now I stand here, far away, emotionally and experientially if not physically. Wisdom, I think, is a sophistry, a religious ideal that tries to make something simple that never was. Parallax and perspective. An electron's speed and path. Past and future.
They're all an illusion we use to try to understand the world.

And somewhere in all that, add the actual words that Eric wrote, telling me I'd be the one to make it. I'd break through because I had what it took to deal with the darkness of the world.
I haven't. All those years of praise and prophecy have come to this...
Tired or Lazy? Success or apathy?
"Words, words, words..."

The ideas are there, the hope.

I'll end with words from Mary Wallstonecraft, a little-known travel book she wrote called Letters from Norway. But the book is so much more than her account of the North.
For what it's worth, I included the same words to introduce a production of The Glass Menagerie, a long time ago:

What a long time it requires to know ourselves, and yet almost everyone has more of this knowledge than he is willing to own, even to himself. I cannot immediately determine whether I ought to rejoice at having turned over in this solidtude a new page in the history of my own heart, though I may venture to assure you that a further acquitance with mankind only tends to increase my respect for your judgement , and esteem for your character.

Letters from Norway, Letter 9, 1796.

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